Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Greece

Far too early, we were up again. A decent amount of time before even the sun had decided it was worth rising. We had arrived at mainland Greece. This didn't mean a whole lot, as our next location was Corfu.. which is on an island. So our ferry finally let us off (about two hours late - they run on Greek 'ish' time), and we drove 1.5 hours to our next ferry. We arrived at our accommodation early afternoon.

And then the fun part (but not actually). Our rooms were at the top of a massive massive hill. Climbing that hill comes pretty close to the Eiffel Tower (and its 669 steps) in terms of effort. It was actually ridiculous. We refreshed, and trekked back down the hill to an optional activity that Contiki staff had been pretty excited about: George's Boat.
George has been running his boat tours since 1976, and although he has been scaled back (a LOT) even in the past few years, he's still an inappropriate and seedy kinda guy. Luckily, he's an older gentlemen now, and perfectly balances the line between 'entertaining' and 'creepy' in his role of "seedy old man". Also, his tzatziki ("it's good for your sex life!") is pretty amazing, and in Greek tradition, there was more than enough food to keep us happy. And the scenery was amazing.

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

It was a great afternoon to be on a boat - it was sunny, and the weather was finally getting pleasant. Two days earlier, in Rome, had been the first day warm/sunny enough that some people shed some layers (and got a little pink in the process). Well, anyone who didn't get a little pink in Rome, definitely left George's boat more-than-a-little pink. And those who had gotten a little pink in Rome? They were a good, solid red.

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Now, I'm not quite so easily distracted by a little sun - the weather was still only in the 20s. Sure, it was sunny, but it was also a little breezy, the water was cold, and it was really nowhere near what I'd describe as 'hot'. So no, I did not get in the water. But a lot of other people did! And they jumped in off the boat. Many of them, multiple times. Never one to turn down a good action shot, I had a ball. I even got a nice big scratch down the side of one leg from squeezing around ropes and cables to get the perfect spot. Totally worth it.

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

"Contiki! Move your asses! George's boat is leaving!"

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

Jumping shots! George's Boat, Corfu

After dinner (back at the hotel), a few other girls and I went into town. It was a decent way to walk, and we only had a couple of hours until our toga party, so we split a taxi. Our taxi driver was amazing. His name was (also) George. Oh, our resident Greek on tour was the original George, so the tally is up to three now. Anyway, between the four of us, we had a nice list of things-to-do, and very little time, and taxi-George happily dashed us all over town (or as much as was open, with tourist season not yet started), and finished up at a little grocery/market, where he took us straight to the manager. He was also amazing. In his 20s he had been in the Greek navy, and travelled all over, including all over Australia! He loved Australia, and he loves Australians and he was just a genuinely lovely guy, and ran all over his little shop finding things we were looking for. He also gave us (free!) ouzo cookies. I love free things!

That evening, we had a toga party. And the key to our room broke in the lock, so until midnight or so, I was stuck at a party I wasn't feeling for with no idea whether I'd have a room to go back to, or any stuff. Luckily, they managed to open our room, and move us to another.

Our second day in Corfu was an entirely free day. This meant sleep-ins, and lazing around the pool or on the beach, a few shopping trips into town, and a wi-fi party (since this hotel was the first decent internet access we'd had since Paris). Of course, when I have too much free time, there's always a certain danger.. My hair went from blonde to the brightest red I have ever seen. It was amazing.

Our optional activity that night was a traditional Greek dinner, including traditional dances from various areas around Greece. There was so much food. Like Italy, Greece has a massive food culture. And of course there was lots of wine as well.

The following day, we departed toward Athens. We went into town in the evening for a walkabout dinner and a bit of a wander. There were lots of stray dogs, and quite a few frozen yogurt places (mmm, I love frozen yogurt!). We all returned to the hotel to nurse our sunburns and prepare ourselves for our group splitting in half. The following afternoon, half of us would board a flight to Cairo, and early the next morning (as there was a ferry strike which delayed their plans by a day), the other half of the group would depart for the Greek islands.

In the morning, before our split, we had a guided tour around Athens: we went to the first modern Olympic stadium (from the late 19th century), and up past ruins of a temple dedicated to Zeus, to the Acropolis, to see some old amphitheaters and some temples (including the Parthenon).

Unfortunately, my camera decided that I didn't really want any photos of Athens (or our second day in Corfu, or any nice landscapes between the two locations) - they simply disappeared. Which was quite devastating, as I had a particularly awesome photo of the Parthenon, as well as a few other photos I really liked. But, I suppose, that's technology for you.

We wandered around Athens in the afternoon, and then the Egyptian group left for our flight to Cairo.

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